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Pussy Riot found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison

17 August 2012

On 17 August 2012, the three members of the punk collective Pussy Riot received guilty verdicts and were each sentenced to two years’ imprisonment. According to the judge, they had “deeply insulted the faith of believers with their disrespectful criminal act and that the punk protest was blasphemous against the orthodox church.”

When the heavy prison sentence was announced it caused widespread outrage. PEN International called it “a huge blow for freedom of expression in Russia which highlights the growing trend of oppression in the country.”

On the day of the verdict announcement, Friday 17 August 2012, international human rights and freedom of expression groups together with committed activists staged events and happenings on five continents in more than 30 countries and in almost 70 cities. From Buenos Aires to Kaliningrad, from Perm to Brisbane.

Russian Embassies, Orthodox churches, public squares and other places have been confronted with thousands and thousands of people from all walks of life, who have staged events in solidarity with the Pussy Riot girls. Wearing colourful balaclavas, banners and signs calling for their release to the sound of speeches, concerts and other performances.

Since the Pussy Riot case started rolling, international organisations such as Freemuse, Amnesty International and the ‘FreePussyRiot’ campaign group have also lobbied and encouraged renowned and popular musicians such as Madonna, Franz Ferdinand, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono, and Björk to show their solidary and support to the Pussy Riot group members.

The musicians showed their support to the Pussy Riot girls by sending solidarity letters, dedicating songs or concerts or speaking to the media in support of them and their right to express their thoughts and opinions through their musical and public performances



Intense media coverage
Freemuse’s phones had been ringing all day with journalists asking for statements and quotes for media and events taking place. Two Russian online news sites broadcasted live tv and news updates from the court room in Moscow. The popular online site www.rt.com was hacked numerous times by hackers during the day, leading to a media blackout on the heavy trafficked newssite.



Background: About Pussy Riot’s case in brief
Three members of Pussy Riot — a feminist protest punk and activist group which has staged a series of political happenings in Moscow — were detained in March 2012 after they had disrupted a service in a church in Moscow and staged a ‘punk prayer’ calling for the Holy Virgin Mary to please “throw out Putin.”

To enable better understanding of the case, here is a translation of what Pussy Riot were singing in the church. It contains some explicit content. Thanks to freepussyriot.org for the translation and explanatory notes.

This is a punk rock ‘moleben’, a form of supplication or intercession prayer, in this case addressed to the Virgin Mary.

Pussy Riot’s moleben is based on Rachmaninov’s Ave Maria – see second link to hear the score. The words to the Rachmaninov piece are: Rejoice, O Virgin Mother of God, / Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee: / blessed art thou among women, / and blessed is fruit of they womb / for thou has borne the saviour of our souls.

The Punk Moleben alternates verses in the style of traditional church choral singing and punk declamatory choruses with electric guitar background.


PUNK MOLEBEN – VIRGIN MARY PUT PUTIN AWAY

(chorus)
O Virgin Mother of God, put Putin away
Рut Putin away, put Putin away
(end chorus)

Black robe, golden epaulettes
All parishioners crawl to bow
The phantom of liberty is in heaven
Gay-pride sent to Siberia in chains

The head of the KGB, their chief saint,
Leads protesters to prison under escort
In order not to offend His Holiness
Women must give birth and love

Shit, shit, the Lord’s shit!
Shit, shit, the Lord’s shit!

(chorus)

O Virgin Mother of God, become a feminist
Become a feminist, become a feminist
(end chorus)

The Church’s praise of rotten dictators
The cross-bearer procession of black limousines
A teacher-preacher will meet you at school
Go to class – bring him money! Patriarch Gundyaev believes in Putin
Bitch, better believe in God instead
The belt of the Virgin can’t replace mass-meetings
Mary, Mother of God, is with us in protest!

(Chorus)

O Virgin Mother of God, put Putin away
Рut Putin away, put Putin away
(end chorus)




About the significance of intercession prayer:
wikipedia.org/wiki/Moleben

Link to the video of Pussy Riot performing the song:
youtube.com/watch?v=5bPH7rdeWSE


Read more: about Pussy Riot on artsfreedom.freemuse.org 

 

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